How To Write Better Emails And Get Better Results
Guess what peeps? The latest statistics on email claim we spend A LOT of time wading through the inbox.
Despite all the productivity blogs and books on how to streamline emails, we’re still spending significant amounts of time reading and replying.
So, given that the inbox crawl is not going away anytime soon, let’s focus on what we can do.
How many times have you written an email that has caused a mini drama at work? Or an email that has the reader writing back to you to ask for an explanation of what you want them to do?
Writing clear, concise emails has a twofold benefit. You’ll get faster results from your email and prevent misunderstandings.
Here’s some tips on how to write more effective emails.
Use The Subject Line
The subject line is a powerful time saver but unfortunately most of us tend to underutilize this part of the email.
When you use specific text in the subject line you help the reader skimming their emails know right off the bat why you are writing to them.
For example here’s two subject lines:
Weekly marketing report
Week Ending 3/24/17 C Pike Marketing Campaign Status Report
The second subject line is way more informative. It helps the reader know what the email is about before they even open it.
Create emails that get to the point. Instead of writing multiple requests, pick one main item and craft a 3 sentence email.
I’d like to learn how to use Zapier integration for Google Sheets.
Are you available on Tuesday to review the process on Zoom?
Please let me know if 12–1 or 2–3pm are good times for you.
Not only did I state a request here, I gave parameters for scheduling a meeting time. That directs the reader to respond and hopefully pick a time frame.
Break It Up
This rule goes for many forms of writing on the web — break up chunks of text. This makes emails easier to read. With so many emails coming through, sentences that are set apart will be less likely to be misread or misunderstood.
Take this block of text, for example.
The office party’s coming up and everybody needs to be at Sizzler at 2 on Friday the 17th. Make sure you bring your gifts for the exchange. To get to Sizzler, take Highway 65 to exit 17 and then take a right, Sizzler is on your left. Make sure you sign the card by the end of today as well. Everybody’s doing a great job on the team with the software upgrade so keep up the good work. See you at Sizzler on Friday!
This email has dates, times, directions in one large block of text. It’s easy for the reader to miss something.
Office Party Details:
Time & Date: Friday, March 17th, 2pm
Where: Sizzler Steak House
Directions: Take Highway 65 to Exit 17. Take your first right. Sizzler is on the left.
What To Bring: Your gift for the gift exchange
Miscellaneous: Sign card by EOD today, Thursday, March 16th, 5pm.
PS: Everybody’s doing a great job on the software upgrade! Keep up the great work team!
In this email, I’ve broken up the email and categorized the details. This is easier to read and understand.
Stick With The Formalities
Some of us write the way we speak. Which is why we need to do a mental reboot when writing to anyone in the business world. “Yo waasssuppp!” is not a business greeting and most likely will never be.
If you write like a gangsta rapper, switch to the King’s English with business emails. This means using the person’s name as it is written (don’t assume Joseph is Joe), and signing off with Regards, Kind Regards, or Sincerely, for example.
Avoid using emoticons or emojis in business emails. Can I tell you about the time when a business colleague sent me an emoticon of a clenched fist and I thought she wanted to punch me in the face? Fortunately, she just wanted to do a virtual fist bump. But the point is, it freaked me out.
Emails don’t have to be entertaining, colorful or artistic. They just need to get your message across.
It’s Not What You Say…
It’s the way that you say it. Tone is not always understood in emails. Be brief, but make sure you don’t come across as terse.
I need your logs by 2pm today or I’ll have to redo the report.
Sheesh! Sounds like I didn’t have coffee that morning! This email could come across as agitated or even slightly tense.
Let’s rewrite this as the kinder, gentler authoritarian (just kidding)!
Thanks for creating the weekly logs for me, this is good data!
I’d like to have these by 2pm sharp so I can integrate them in the larger report.
Let me know if 2pm is a workable time frame.
See how I tell Joseph how his data rocks and I need it to use for my data reporting? Now Joseph knows he has to hustle to get his data to me. He can also tell me if that time frame won’t work. I’d rather get an email like this any day.
Get On The Phone
If your email string is a mile long and you’re getting nowhere, take it out of email and get on the phone or a meeting. Long email strings just confirm that the conversation isn’t working and they become exhausting for those individuals who are trapped in the cc: line. Read the email string back from the beginning and determine where the disconnect is? Who seems confused? What’s the gist of the conversation? Then determine an action to rectify the situation.
The CC: Vortex
I wonder now how many bosses and co workers I’ve driven slowly insane by cc’ing on endless emails.
Chances are, your conversation doesn’t need an audience. Before you cc or bcc anyone, ask yourself — does this person really need to be included in this conversation? Is it something they want to know? Need to know? Can contribute to? If all of these things are a yes, then go ahead. Otherwise, skip it.
Don’t Forget the Kudos
With all the emails we process every day, it’s nice to open one that says, “Great job!”
Don’t forget the compliments. It’s always a good idea to tell people what they are doing right.
Thanks for taking the lead on this project. You’ve done an excellent job motivating the team to focus on customer service. Our clients have noticed the difference!
Here I offer a compliment and explain what the person is doing well. It never hurts to put forth positive energy, either.
By writing concise, brief emails, you can save time and get meaningful responses. Test out these tips on your emails and see if they produce results for you!
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